by Joy Harjo
I was on a train stopped sporadically at checkpoints.
What tribe are you, what nation, what race, what sex, what unworthy soul?
I could not sleep, because I could not wake up.
No mirror could give me back what I wanted.
I was given a drug to help me sleep.
Then another drug to wake up.
Then a drug was given to me to make me happy.
They all made me sadder.
Death will gamble with anyone.
There are many fools down here who believe they will win.
You know, said my teacher, you can continue to wallow, or
You can stand up here with me in the sunlight and watch the battle.
I sat across from a girl whose illness wanted to jump over to me.
No! I said, but not aloud.
I would have been taken for crazy.
We will always become those we have ever judged or condemned.
This is not mine. It belongs to the soldiers who raped the young women on the Trail of Tears. It belongs to Andrew Jackson. It belongs to the missionaries. It belongs to the thieves of our language. It belongs to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It no longer belongs to me.
I became fascinated by the dance of dragonflies over the river.
I found myself first there.
Last updated August 21, 2022